The annual fall avalanche of video game releases is upon us and 2016 is set to bring a slew of big games. There’s your usual suspects like Call of Duty and Battlefield, as well as new releases in big franchises such as Civilization VI, Forza Horizon 3, and Dead Rising 4. Of course, there are many other games coming out as well, but with most gamers only having so much time and money to devote to new games, a lot of these are destined to be ignored by the public at large.
With publishers trying to keep players invested in their games these days with ambitious DLC plans and extensive online strategies, players have to prioritize their time and purchases more than ever, which means that certain games are just not going to be played as much as others. While some of the games on this list will likely perform better than expected (with a few of them even having a good chance of standing alongside the new Call of Duty and Battlefield as some of the best-selling of the year), at the moment, these are the 10 games that will probably get overlooked the most in fall 2016.
10. Rock Band Rivals – Oct. 18th (PS4, Xbox One)
Both Activision and Harmonix attempted to revive the rhythm game genre last year with Guitar Hero Live and Rock Band 4, respectively. Of the two, Guitar Hero Live certainly fared better, as it tried to push the genre forward by introducing a new guitar controller that played much differently than previous editions, as well as Guitar Hero TV, which featured a rotating selection of new music on a weekly basis. In contrast, Rock Band 4 stuck closely to the franchise’s established formula, and while a solid game in its own right, it was criticized for not offering much in the way of new experiences.
Although it failed to spark a plastic instrument renaissance, Harmonix is releasing the first big Rock Band 4 expansion with Rock Band Rivals on October 18th. While Rivals will surely do well with those who never really put their Rock Band instruments away, it’s hard to see it being enough to bring in old and new players alike, especially after the original game came out last year to little fanfare. It’s a shame too because some of the new modes do sound really fun, especially the story-driven Rockudrama that plays out like an episode of Behind the Music.
9. Rise of the Tomb Raider 20 Year Celebration – Oct. 11th (PS4)
Rise of the Tomb Raider was one of the best games of 2015, but its potential for commercial success was hobbled considerably by Square Enix’s somewhat questionable decision to make the game a timed Xbox One exclusive (and it certainly didn’t help matters that it was released on the same day as Fallout 4). PC players received a superior version a couple months later, but PS4 owners have had to wait almost a full year to get their hands on Lara Croft’s latest adventure. Unfortunately, Square Enix is releasing the PS4 version right in the middle of another crowded holiday release schedule. When you also factor in that the PS4 saw the release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, arguably the greatest action-adventure game ever made, earlier this year, it’s difficult to see Rise of the Tomb Raider being anything more than a moderate success (if people even remember that it’s coming out, that is).
8. Gravity Rush 2 – Dec.
The original Gravity Rush remains one of the best game’s in the PlayStation Vita library; a key launch title for Sony’s underappreciated handheld that wasn’t a portable spin-off of an already established series. Understandably, Sony’s Japan Studios wanted to move beyond the Vita for the sequel and is set to deliver Gravity Rush 2 this December. However, despite the pedigree of its predecessor and its status as one of Sony’s few holiday exclusives, there doesn’t seem to be much anticipation for Gravity Rush 2.
Despite garnering positive impressions in preview events, no one is talking about Gravity Rush 2, which might have something to do with the transition in platforms. Gravity Rush is a niche title to begin with, so it was a perfect fit for the Vita with its high attach rate and hardcore player base, but now Sony is positioning the sequel as a full-priced, AAA experience. Even if Gravity Rush 2 lives up to its new price tag — and there’s no reason to think that it won’t — it’s hard to reconcile its indie look with its high asking price and I have the feeling other players could have the same reaction.
7. XCOM 2 – Sept. 27th (PS4, Xbox One)
XCOM 2 was released earlier this year on PC to overwhelming critical acclaim and developer Firaxis Games acknowledged the complaints from console players of being left out by announcing PS4 and Xbox One ports a few months later. But did you know that these ports come out on Sept. 27th? Having enjoyed the first XCOM back on PS3, I’ve been anticipating getting my hands on the sequel but I had totally forgotten that these ports were even coming out until I noticed you could pre-order the game on the Xbox One storefront just the other week. With little coverage from the majority of games press and a lack of anything resembling a marketing campaign from publisher 2K Games, it feels like XCOM 2 is being positioned as a token port job that few people will actually make time for. If these ports end up being well made, the lack of attention that XCOM 2 is surely going to receive will be disappointing, to say the least.
6. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition – Oct. 25th (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)
The original Darksiders is one of the more surprising success stories of the last console generation. Released in the dead of winter in 2010, Darksiders arrived with zero expectation and almost as little hype, and yet went onto earn mostly positive reviews and sold over a million copies. So here we are almost seven years later and current franchise owner Nordic Games (original publisher THQ went under in 2013) is putting out a remastered edition on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U. While a version of Darksiders that runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second (30 on Wii U) is certainly welcome, as it’s still a very good game, why is it being released now?
Setting aside the fact that Nordic has released these remastered editions all out of order — Darksiders II: Deathfinitive Edition was released last year — putting out a seven year old game right in the middle of the holiday games rush is sure to not to do Darksiders: Warmastered Edition any favors. This would have been a great release for January when new games sales are few and far between, but instead, Nordic is putting this one out to die on October 25th.
5. The Last Guardian – Dec. 6th (PS4)
Shadow of the Colossus remains one of the greatest games ever made and more than 11 years after its original release, we are finally going to get to play its long-awaited follow-up, The Last Guardian … maybe. This game has been delayed so many times and suffered through what surely must be one of the most brutal development cycles in gaming history, that any hype or excitement that most people may have had for The Last Guardian was long ago replaced with indifference and a desire to just see the thing released already, so we can all move on with our lives.
Sony is clearly desperate to get this game out in 2016, as they recently delayed it from an October release to December 6th. The problem with a December release is that it misses October and November, the two months of the year that see the most game sales, which means that many consumers will have long since wrapped up their game shopping for the year by the time The Last Guardian comes out. The Last Guardian will likely sell moderately well (it’s hard not to be curious about a game that took this long to complete) but it’s difficult to see this achieving the commercial or critical success it could have if it had been released half a decade ago like it was supposed to.
4. Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour – Oct. 11th (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Duke Nukem 3D remains one of the most beloved first-person shooters of all time and to celebrate its upcoming 20th anniversary, current franchise holder Gearbox is releasing a remastered edition that includes a new graphics engine and a brand new episode — Alien World Order — created by the game’s original developers, Allen Blum III and Richard Gray. Unfortunately, this new edition of Duke 3D has a few things working against it. For one thing, Duke fans are not the biggest fans of Gearbox after the developer released the abysmal Duke Nukem Forever back in 2011. Duke 3D has also already received numerous re-releases over the years and some fans have pointed out that the World Tour edition doesn’t look much better than the Megaton Edition that was released a few years ago. That being said, Gearbox is selling this thing for $20, so it’s not there’s a big barrier to entry there (although some might argue that asking $20 for a 20-year-old game is a bit steep), but outside of hardcore Duke 3D fans, it’s doubtful many will bother picking this one up, especially during the crowded holiday release season.
3. Titanfall 2 – Oct. 28 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Although Titanfall 2 is being positioned as one of the biggest games of the holiday season, Respawn Entertainment’s long-awaited sequel is being released at the same time as the year’s other big first-person shooter releases and could have a hard time competing for gamers’ time and money. Going head-to-head with tentpole releases like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 is certainly a bold move on EA’s part and speaks to their confidence in Titanfall 2’s ability to compete with the top dogs in the first-person shooter market.
At the same time, it seems like EA is cannibalizing its own audience, as Titanfall 2 is directly competing with Battlefield 1, which is also published by EA. Gamers only have so much time and money to commit to online games such as these, so why would EA release two expensive, very similar games right around the same time? Titanfall 2 probably should have been saved for a spring release where it wouldn’t have such stiff competition, and while it will probably be one of the best-selling games of the fall, it’s hard to see Titanfall 2 meeting EA’s projected sales target of 10 million copies.
2. Gears of War 4 – Oct. 11th (Xbox One, PC)
Okay, so no self-respecting gamer has actually forgotten that a new Gears of War is arriving this fall. Gears of War 4 is one of Microsoft’s biggest releases of the year and will be a driving force behind the Xbox One’s success this holiday. However, for a game as big and important as Gears 4 is, it’s surprising just how little hype there seems to be for it. Next to Halo, Gears is easily the Xbox’s second biggest brand and each past numbered entry in the series has been a landmark release that not only pushed the graphical capabilities of the Xbox 360, but were some of the most popular titles of their respective holiday season. Whether it’s a case of franchise fatigue (as visually impressive as the new game looks, it is unmistakably a Gears game, for better or worse) or simply a fall schedule crowded with other shooters, it feels like there’s a real danger of Gears of War 4 underperforming from a sales perspective and being largely ignored by anyone who isn’t a diehard Gears fan. We’ll just have to wait and see.
1. Paper Mario: Color Splash
To say that the Wii U is on life support would be putting it mildly, as Nintendo’s ill-fated console is pretty much on death’s door right now, with Paper Mario: Color Splash representing the console’s sole first-party title coming out this fall. Oh, you didn’t know a new Paper Mario game was coming out? You’re surely not the only one. As the title implies, Color Splash is a new entry in the long-running Paper Mario series that revolves around Mario using a Paint Hammer to color in the game’s world. The Paper Mario games are almost universally great, so it’s a safe bet that Color Splash will be another solid release from Nintendo, but it’s certainly not a game that should be driving a holiday release schedule (although that would suggest that Nintendo actually has a strategy in place for this fall, which they clearly do not). Yes, the only noteworthy game coming out for the Wii U this holiday is Paper Mario: Color Splash; nothing to see here folks but a console not-so-gracefully fading away …